Team gold for UAE; 55% endurance completion rate best yet

September 28, 2010

With 55 finishers from 100 starters, the completion rate for the 160km endurance race at the World Equestrian Games was the highest ever for a world games.


Gold: United Arab Emirates


Silver: France


Bronze: Germany. © Kit Houghton/FEI

Riders and team officials hailed the 100-mile course around the Kentucky Horse Park as a great success. The course crossed land owned by 26 different owners and passed through 256 gates, all of which had to be manned by officials or volunteers to control equine, pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Riders wore global-positioning-system tracking devices throughout the race, allowing spectators to follow them on television screens throughout the Kentucky Horse Park.

"It was not part of the official timing or scoring system, but I think it worked well to keep the spectators interested in following the race as it progressed," said endurance discipline manager Emmett Ross.

After their riders finished third, sixth and seventh individually, the United Arab Emirates today accepted their team gold medals in the Main Stadium.

The UAE team's total time (23:53:36) was nearly 55 minutes faster than silver medalist France (24:49:46), while Germany surprised the world by claiming the bronze medal (25:34:16). It was Germany's first medal in endurance at a World Equestrian Games.

The UAE team members were Sheikh Hamdan Mohammed Al Maktoum, Sheikh Majid Mohammed Al Maktoum, and Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum. They had trained in Newmarket, England, to prepare for the World Games, because the grass training gallops and the climate there are far more similar to Lexington than Dubai, said Jaume Punti-Dachs, one of the team's trainers.

The French team members were Sarah Chakil, Virgnie Atger and Cecile Miletto Mosti.

The German team members were Gabriela Foster, Sabrina Arnold and Belinda Hitzler.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the individual silver medalist, elected not to be a member of his country's team for these World Games. He said before the ride began that he'd made this decision because it was "in the best interest of the team."

Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton, the individual gold medalist, also trained her mount, Nobby, in Newmarket since Punti-Dachs is her husband. She gave birth to their daughter, Maria Punti-Alvarez, just seven weeks ago.

"I feel no different today than after any other ride," she said. "The only difference was that I could not sleep all night because I had to feed the baby."